Celebrities are checking their pets in to this exclusive hotel

George Clooney’s and David Gandy’s pooches are regular guests at the Country Dog Hotel

Travel and Wellbeing 13 May 2024

Country Dog Hotel in Somerset

As you check in to Ivyton Farmhouse with its beautiful high wooden beams, country-chic interiors and a dreamy landscape where rolling hills meet the sky, you might easily presume it was an ordinary rural escape. A second look at the reservation, however, might set tails wagging as it includes a daily individual play session, a shedding mud-treatment and complimentary belly rubs.

Country Dog Hotel guest on bed in countryside
Guests at the Country Dog Hotel can enjoy sleeping in a human bed with a team member snuggled under the covers

Founded by Rebecca Linnell and Michael Walton, the Country Dog Hotel, as it is otherwise known, is a luxury resort with a clientele so exclusive, not even Hollywood’s most famous silver fox was allowed through the front door. Previous guests include Harry Redknapp’s bulldog, Barney; Lorraine Kelly’s border terrier, Angus; David Gandy’s rescue yorkie, Dora; and Amal and George Clooney’s Newfoundland, Rosie (‘She was such a character at the hotel!’ says Linnell. ‘She’s such a big, fluffy, loveable dog and Amal and George are the most lovely people ever, so it was an absolute honour to look after Rosie.’). A pretty impressive guest list, but it’s fair to say that each pet that walks through the door is treated to an A-list stay.

Homemade Dog Biscuits
Freshly made Aga-cooked dog biscuits are just one of the perks for guests

Offering a luxury central London door-to-door chauffeur service in the hotel’s Mercedes van or Land Rover Defenders, the Country Dog Hotel has a VIP package (for Very Important Pets) which includes homemade Aga-cooked biscuits, a variety of bedroom options, adventure days out and an ultimate pamper at the dog spa. After an initial consultation with their “client”, a choice of spa treatments is available, including a blueberry facial, conditioning treatment and a warm tub session filled with water from the Quantock natural spring and heated with an external wood fire heater.

‘When I originally started the business it was very much local; it was local people using us. But as the business grew and more and more people found out about us, it became evident that there was a huge gap in the market,’ Linnell explains. ‘The talent that we’ve got and the professionals that work for us now, they’re experts at what they do, they know what they’re doing and they know dog behaviour. All of those things require good people to look after the dogs that we now look after.’

Dog Spa and Activities Chalkboard
The hotel’s VIP service includes adventure days out and a variety of spa treatments

Despite being based in Somerset, the relationships Linnell forms with her guests and their owners sees her travel to places such as Miami and the Bahamas to take care of her most loyal companions.

‘There was a moment where Lorraine [Kelly] had asked me to go up to the studios in London and sit with Angus and look after him while she was filming Lorraine. I was sat in her dressing room at six in the morning with Angus and Lorraine in a pair of slippers and thinking, “How did I get here?”. It was the most surreal moment. Since then it’s sort of grown, but it’s quite funny because a lot of celebrities who have used us have used us through word of mouth. It’s all come to us quite organically.’

The Country Dog Hotel’s celebrity backing contributed to the raising of £5,000 during the pandemic in aid of the Wild at Heart Foundation, a charity that makes real and lasting change for abandoned and unloved dogs. Hosting an online dog show and competition, with rounds ranging from cutest puppy to dogs who most look like their owners, stars from around the world joined a judging panel in aid of the cause. ‘We had three England rugby players: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge and Henry Slade, then Laura Anderson and Eddy Edmondson, Harry Redknapp, Lorraine Kelly and Sheryl Sandberg [former COO of Facebook] from America – I couldn’t believe it,’ says Linnell.

Daily Dog Walking in Somerset
The Country Dog Hotel has raised £5,000 for the Wild at Heart Foundation with the support of Lorraine Kelly, Harry Redknapp and Sheryl Sandberg

With such success, does the hotel have any plans to expand?

‘We have looked at other locations, but if I’m honest we want to keep it in Somerset. Somerset has been under the radar for quite a few years, but it has so much to offer with the walks: the beaches, the countryside and that’s sort of what we’re about and that’s what we want to keep. Also it’s really important for us as a small business to employ people from our local community. If we do expand, we’ll probably expand to another location within Somerset. When you see those dogs, running on the hill and having the time of their life, that’s us.’